Investigators said on Tuesday the shooting of Chancery Judge Charlie Smith was “personal” and directed toward him.
“We feel very confident that it is an isolated incident and that it was directed toward him,” Interim Police Chief Lewis Robbins said.
Smith was ambushed and shot in the back with a high-powered rifle on Monday outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse in Meridian as he was exiting his truck to go into the courthouse, according to a Facebook post by Chancery Court Judge Larry Primeaux.
So far, police haven’t found a motive for the shooting, neither any trail that may lead to a possible suspect.
“We continue to look at suspects about this shooting,” Robbins said. “To ensure the public, that’s the way we feel concerning this. We are doing everything that we can to bring this to a closure.”
The shooting happened in Meridian, about 98 miles northeast of Jackson, The Associated Press reported.
Smith became a judge in January 2019 after more than 20 years as a youth court and county court prosecutor.
Among subjects that Chancery judges in Mississippi handle are divorces, child custody cases, adoptions, and guardianships.
Primeaux said in an online statement that Smith is currently hospitalized at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and has several surgeries ahead and that his injuries are serious.
“It’s unfortunate and tragic what Judge Smith and his family are going through,” Primeaux said.
“Chancellor Smith is one of the kindest, most humble, most gentlemanly people I have ever met,” he wrote in the statement. “I can’t imagine him provoking a violent reaction from anyone.”
Authorities are urging anyone with information about this case to report it to Crimestoppers at 855-485-8477.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.